Philomath sixth-graders picked up a few pointers from Olympic basketball royalty Thursday evening after practice.

Carol Menken-Schaudt, who won a gold medal with the U.S. Olympic team in 1984, shared her knowledge with the team at the request of coach Randy Tryon.

"She shared with the girls the lesson of smiling, that they are what they choose to be, not what others think of them," Katey Tryon said.

Menken-Schaudt, 60, told the girls a little about her background, including how she got into upper-level basketball after playing at Jefferson High School. While she was a graphic arts student at Linn-Benton Community College, the school started up a women's basketball program and she was invited to try out.

“They just knew I was tall,” Menken-Schaudt said in a 2016 interview. “There were seven of us. Everyone who tried out made the team. We were actually not too bad.”

Getting little interest from a four-year school, LBCC's coach suggested that she approach OSU about playing basketball. She received a partial scholarship.

Menken-Schaudt got to know OSU women's coach Aki Hill during a Ralph Miller basketball camp. She said in the 2016 interview that “Aki saw a potential in me that nobody else had seen.”

With a focus on positioning and her trademark turnaround jumper on the low block, Menken-Schaudt averaged 29.6 points per game and was named to the All-America team in 1980-81.

She played professionally in Italy for six years and Japan for two. She became involved in USA Basketball and went on to make the 1984 Olympic team that won gold.

Menken-Schaudt was inducted into the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame in 1993.

"She also spent time giving the girls shooting pointers," Katey Tryon said about her visit with the sixth-grade team. "The girls went away inspired and in awe of being next to an Olympian ... a very tall one at that."


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